American Idol S15 Showcase No 1

16 02 2016

Tonight’s performances was completed at the Vibiana. It’s a church in Los Angeles so I can’t wait to hear the acoustics. Twelve singers will perform tonight and tomorrow they will get to do duets with former Idol contestants. Tomorrow night, five contestants will be cut. Next week they will do it again.

Stephany Negrete chose a Jessie J song “Mama Knows Best.” It’s odd that when I look at her, I see a young Cher. There is something missing though and I can’t put my finger on it. It was a fantastic way to open the show. Keith said it was a really good song for her. Keith thinks she could have loosened up even more. Jennifer said she is the full package but she needs to connect emotionally to the lyrics. Harry said it was great advice.

Next is Great Big World’s “Say SomethingMackenzie Bourg. I really liked this. Sometimes simple is better. Jennifer said he felt very natural up there; he did what Mackenzie does and it is exactly what he needs to do. Harry said the lyrics meant something to him. He liked that he changed up the melody without changing the integrity of the song. Keith said if he had heard that song for the first time he would absolutely believe Mackenzie wrote it.

Jeneve Rose Mitchell chose to play the harp (one of many instruments she knows how to play) and sing “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. The young lady has talent but I don’t picture her as the last American Idol. I can see her getting a recording contract though in Nashville. Harry thought she did herself a disservice of playing the harp on this song in this way. He would have just liked her to sing the song. Keith said she is the real deal. She is extraordinary and he loves the way she takes risks. Jennifer said she was not sure about her before that performance but she had goosies everywhere. She thought it was beautiful.

Jenna Renae is a singer/songwriter. She chose “My Church” by Maren Morris. I had to laugh because they were singing in a church for this performance. Keith woo-hooed from the audience because he loves this song. She did a fantastic job (that is high praise coming from me because of my disdain of country music). Keith said it was good tonight. Jennifer thought she was in her element and she had a lot of joy when she sang. Harry liked the energy and enthusiasm. He said that there is a fine line between enthusiasm and shouting and her pitch was sacrificed as a result of that.

“Love Lockdown” by Kanye West was the choice for James VIII tonight. I loved his version more than Kanye’s. I could see him holding back still though. It wasn’t until recently that he ever saw himself as a singer as he just played guitar in a band so this might be a lack of confidence issue. I loved how he interacted with Rickey Minor in the end. Jennifer said it was an interesting choice to do that song in that way. She thought it stayed too even and it didn’t grab her in the way it could have for as good as he is (and the audience boos). Harry said it felt good. It was super easy but when is it going to get more complex. He didn’t know how far down the road he would get. Keith said he has to be careful being chill and being indulgent. You can’t assume he is going to be here to do another song so come out and kill it each and every time.

Sonika Vaid chose “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars. She has a tremendously beautiful voice. She still is lacking stage performance and she always takes a song and sings it as a ballad. Just singing ballads is not going to get her through this competition. The stage just seems to swallow her up (and this is a small stage). Harry said it was one of the more emotional performances they have seen. Keith said her voice is so good. Jennifer says her voice is so beautiful but she wants her to choose songs that makes her heart sing as well.

Bookworm Gianna Isabella chose “I Put a Spell on You” by Annie Lennox. First goosebumps of the evening. She was a little off pitch on those few end notes but I loved it. Keith said her voice is undeniable. There were moments she was starting to own the stage but they were inconsistent. Jennifer said the voice is so real and so strong. Harry said she has a great voice and has been a great student of American Idol because she hit big loud notes in the right places. He wants her to challenge herself to find as much meat in there as she can.

Emily Rose drew upon The Voice’s champion Cassadee Pope for her song “I Am Invincible.” This is the same problem that Emily had last year when she got cut—her performance during the showcase was terrible. Emily started off flat and sharp all over the place. Yes, perhaps she was scared. I feel for her if she was. But these performances are do or die to make it to the next round and they are cutting 5 people from the 12 tomorrow. There is no room for mistakes. The song did not improve as she went along. She was off pitch throughout the song. It just became less obvious because she was more in her vocal range. Jennifer likes her but that was not the best song for her because of the lower vocal range. She has to choose songs that play to her strengths. Harry says she has to sell those lyrics. He did not feel it. He has never heard her struggle with pitch as much as she did tonight. But he leaves her that her talent is unquestionable and she must be having an off night. Keith said that song did not play to all her strengths but what he did like was that she was exploring and trying different things.

Self-described tomgirl Avalon Young picked “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber. She has a great voice but her performance doesn’t match the song lyrics. This isn’t a happy song and she is smiling throughout. She is a bit off pitch as well. Harry said she seems to be the most in tune with who she is in the moment. He said the only advice would be that maybe she could have modulated it up on the last chorus. Keith said don’t be afraid to tell the band that she wants something different.

Turtle-lover Jordan Sasser chose “All By Myself” (the Celine Dion version; I don’t think anyone remembers that Eric Carmen was the original artist on this).   Did he get a haircut? It looks great. I am not sure if this is my favorite song I have heard from him. Sometimes on those notes he uses with his open throat sound fabulous, but then he almost goes for the opposite back-of-the-throat-straining quality that does hurt my ears a bit. My son with autism happened to come in to the room (he loves music) and he had his hands on his ears (the same thing he does with me when he doesn’t like a note coming out of my voice). I got goosebumps by the end of the song though (again with that open throat). Keith said he has a great voice but it was a little too theatrical for him and asked him to please not lose the emotion of the song. Jennifer agrees a little bit. She said when he first sang “all by myself” she should not have been thinking whether or not he hit the right part of his voice. Harry says he has a great voice and he has to do all that show-offy stuff. He doesn’t like that. He doesn’t need all that.

Thomas Stringfellow chose “Creep” by Radiohead to sing during the showcase. I wasn’t sure whether his chord on his guitar wasn’t correct or his voice didn’t match the chord he played correctly but they weren’t in tune with each other. He is unique and that is his plus. I’m kind of on the fence about whether or not I liked it but the young ladies in the audience did. Jennifer felt that he played with his voice in a way she hadn’t heard before—he was pushing the envelope. He sings with emotion and it fills the room. Harry thought it was tremendous—really, really strong. Keith said his natural way of performing is to lean into abandonment; that is when he is at his best. It’s really compelling.

The pimp-spot performance goes to La’Porsha Renae. She chose “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. This woman is already a star. She stole the night. If she continues having performances like this she will surely win American Idol. I had goosebumps. Keith was standing up. Harry said he thinks one of two things is going to happen as a result of her American Idol performance tonight. She is either going to make other competitors get better or she is going to make them want to quit. She is captivating and smart. He would be stupid to critique that in any way, shape or form. Keith said one of the hard parts is once people critique doing runs, they become conscious of it, and then it backfires. She has never become conscious of it. It’s beautiful because she remains a portal for the gift. Jennifer said it is a joy to listen to her sing. She dreams about voices like hers. Her advice is to take all the influences that she loves and make them hers.

I don’t envy the judges decisions here. In this group, I think the some of the 5 going home will be Emily Rose (worst performance of the 12 and their other country girl did better); James VIII (was nice, but just nice); Sonika Vaid (beautiful voice, but the stage swallows her up).

I’m on the fence about Jeneve Rose Mitchell. She is unique and they may keep her because of that. Jordan Sasser might go home because he was overly dramatic.

Thomas Stringfellow versus Mackenzie Bourg: There might only be one. Mackenzie is more relatable; Thomas is quirky.

Definitely through: La’Porsha Renae (she dominated the competition); Stephany Negrete (because she has a voice and stage presence, but they know she will find that emotional connection like Nick did last season); Jenna Renae; Gianna Isabella; Avalon Young (because they need a quirky girl).





American Idol S15 San Francisco Auditions

12 01 2016

A very “sorry” Brook Sample (who hates her last name and job because she goes home smelling like Ranch dressing) was adorable. She is from Oklahoma and currently living in Tucson. She chose a song from Dixie Chicks, “Cold Day in July.” I liked it better than the live version of this song by the original artists. Harry said in terms of presenting herself he thinks she owes herself a little confidence because she has a fine last name, she should be proud to be a waitress and she did a really good job. Jennifer thinks America might love her as much as she does. Keith thinks she has a really good voice—interesting and unique; it’s very special. She receives a yes from all three judges.

Olivia Rox is a 16-year-old who was born into a musical family who encouraged her talent from a very young age. She sang “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. The beginning of the song was dragging a little bit but it progressed well and showcased her voice super well. Yes, I got goosebumps. Harry thinks she is an extraordinarily talented kid. Jennifer thought she did beautifully and is someone who would add a lot to the competition. Keith thought her voice was really unique and refreshing to hear it.

Cover-band singer Jessica Clark did her own take on “Come Together” by The Beatles. While her voice is interesting, the nasal quality of her voices hurts my ears. She makes it through.

Ameet Kanon, an 18-year-old student from LA, sang “Mercy” by Duffy. I liked her voice but no goosebumps. She looks good on camera.  She is through.

Kayla Mickelsen was also familiar to me from her auditions for “The Voice.”   She chose “Broadripple is Burning” by Margot and The Nuclear So and So’s. I love her. She reminds me a bit of Joey from last year. The judges liked it a lot. She is also through to Hollywood.

Melanie Tierce, a 21-year-old, from Murrie, California had me in goosebumps by the second note.   She sang “Rise Up” by Third Day. Apparently Harry was immediately sold on her, too. Jennifer got goosebumps. She had Keith crying. He said it was unbelievably good. Harry thought it was stunning. He thought it was one of the best auditions he has heard in 3 years.

Being Miss Alaska 2014 led to a job in radio for Malie Delgado. She chose Gretchen Wilson’s “Chariot” as her audition song. She has a lovely voice. No goosebumps but it was lovely. Jennifer thought she had a great voice. Harry gave her an analogy of the color blue and how many shades of blue they have in the competition. She is like an aquamarine. He is amazed all these ridiculously talented smart women are coming. He told her it will be a husky dog fight. She will need to yell “mush” as loud as she can. (Well, technically the term is “hike”, Harry). Jennifer and Keith are also a yes for Hollywood. After she walked out, the judges said she was a star.

Ryan stepped into Harry’s role and Harry took over Ryan’s spot. He gives the next contestant some tips on what to say to Ryan to win him over (loves labs, ask about his sister getting married). Brandyn Burnette decided to sing an original song called “Lost.” His voice reminds me of someone I can’t put my finger on at the moment. I love it and I love him. Harry felt the desire to hug him while he was playing piano. Keith gave him a brief standing ovation. Ryan was impressed. He felt the emotion. He sang it beautifully and he liked the lyrics. This gives him the first four-yes vote of the season.

The next contestant’s family are the biggest American Idol fans. They still have every show ever done on a recording (like VHS recording). Kyrsti Jewel believes that American Idol actually gave her her love of singing. Lee DeWyze went over and said hello. Ryan invited them all in for the audition where Kyrsti chose to sing “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J.   WOW! She is a little powerhouse; she needs to learn how to vary her sound because it always on LOUD. She absolutely has talent, but that is the only thing I’d like to see her learn. Harry said she has an incredible instrument – clear, loud, energetic. She receives the three yes votes to move through to Hollywood.

Sarah Hayes thought she was coming in being confident and funny, but she was off-putting. She chose “Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. She forgot the lyrics. But what I started to hear was a person who has a nice voice, but not nearly good enough to even make it to Hollywood.   She also needs to lose the gum in her mouth. Then she switches to Invincible. Harry says yes to her because he feels like they are part of the problem of why she was messing up. Keith scolded her gently about how she presented herself was not a good way to audition. Jennifer worried about her because there is only going to be more and more pressure as time goes on. She didn’t hear enough of her voice to know if she can control it enough. Jennifer said no. Keith said the whole audition was unstable. Keith was also a no.

 

Next up: Philadelphia





So You Think You Can Dance Top 18

3 07 2013

Yes it happened again. My DVR did not record the show last week. I think I finally got it fixed though. I still do not like the way we are getting the results. All 20 have to put their best efforts forward even though only 18 will remain by the end of the show. But it is what it is.

Tonight joining resident judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy was Christina Applegate.

Opening number

Song: “The Heroic Weather-Conditions Of The Universe, part 1: A Veiled Mist” by Moonrise Kingdom (Original Soundtrack)
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio

That was fabulous. They look like a real dance troupe that have been working together for years. It is one of those odd dances–like a circus with so much going on you are not quite sure where to look and when you do look you do look out of the corner of your eye you find you are missing a lot.

Group

Yikes! Cat Deeley is already announcing the bottom 3 guys and girls. That is going to either dampen their psyche, or make them dance better in their couples’ routines. Bottom 3 girls: Mariah. Makenzie, Brittany. Bottom 3 guys: Alan, Jade, Carlos.

This season the judges get to save 2 contestants right away. This week it is Alan and Makenzie are saved.

Solos

Mariah danced to “Hard In da Paint” by Waka Flocka Flame. I adore a female hip-hop dancer. Carlos danced a solo to “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons which I just knew would show up on this season’s show somehow when I heard it. It is the ringtone of my timer on my IPhone. I thought it was a fabulous solo outside of a little but too much rolling on the ground. Brittany danced to “Hacksaw” by Ooah. Was that Ballroom or Jazz? Hard to tell, but there was a lot of self-worship with her hands on her body a lot–something I know the judges dislike from previous seasons’ auditions. Jade danced to “De Novo Adagio (Intro) by Alicia Keys. He is an amazing animator. I felt like he was a maestro pulling on our strings, but in a way it was very smooth like the water. It is very hard to describe.

Oh GEEZ! They are actually telling us who is going home before the couples dance? That is not right at all. I do not like this format. Nigel said he was disappointed in their solos. He did not feel they were dancing for their lives at all. The decision is made by the choreographers’ input as well as what they saw in Vegas and how they feel the contestants would grow. Carlos and Brittany will be leaving the show.

Couples

Dancers: Hayley and Curtis
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Style: Jazz
Song: “Mama Knows Best” By Jessie J

I loved it when she was pushing him down. What back control and strength. Some of Curtis’ lines need work. I also think he needs to emote more, like Hayley does. It seemed like he was trying to remember the steps too much.

The judges: Nigel could not take his eyes off Hayley but felt Curtis was a good partner. Mary loved it and felt Hayley was a force to be reckoned with on the show. Christina forgot Curtis was a tapper. She felt like maybe everyone should leave to give them some privacy. She gave some helpful points they could take away and put into their work the next time around.

HayleyCurtis

Dancers: Aaron and Jasmine H. (who I affectionately have named #JasTurns)
Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo (NappyTabs)
Style: Lyrical hip-hop
Song: “Tears Always Win” by Alicia Keys

The story is he is a man going in and out of her life. He expects her to be there for him when he does. For a tapper, Aaron does a great job with hip hop. I am so glad he was #11 and someone dropped out because of an injury. There is a lot of chemistry between these dancers. Jasmine conveyed the feelings of being upset with him yet longing for him at the same time. I LOVED it. When he flipped her over into a backbend it was so fluid. It was beautiful.

The judges: Mary loved it. Jasmine is a star. Aaron was sexy. Christina had notes written from the dress rehearsal that she tossed away. She thinks they are the couple to beat at this point. Nigel felt an honesty in the routine. He feels that Aaron is a major asset to the series this year.

AaronJasmine

Dancers: Malece and Jade
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Style: Bollywood
Song: “Radha” by Student Of The Year (Original Soundtrack)

The girl plays hard to get and the guy woos her back in. I know that every movement had purpose including positioning. Would I know if they made a mistake? Nope! I love Bollywood because it is always interesting and full of energy. It makes me want to get up and move. You have to be in superb physical shape to survive those songs.

The Judges: Christina gave Jade some words of encouragement. Nigel is shocked that Jade picked up the choreography as well as he did. He thought Malece is like a little pixie. Mary felt Jade was having fun and Malece did a really great job.

MaleceJade

Dancers: Alexis and Nico
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Old Skin” by Olafur Arnalds & Arnor Dan

This piece is a sequel to Robert Roldan and Kathryn McCormick’s dance from season 7. Kathryn’s character left to go to war; in this piece, she (Alexis) is coming home. These are big shoes to fill. In a sense you can say she had returned from war a changed person quite literally. I cried. I tried to imagine the joy of what real families go through when their loved ones return from war. I think Alexis and Nico found the joy.

The judges: Nigel thinks Nico gets better every week. He felt that Alexis had the hardest job this week because as a tapper they don’t straighten their legs. He felt she did very well but she is going to have to work harder. Mary said they let the music take them some place. She felt Nico was fabulous and Alexis’ performance was so honest. Christina thought it was great and that Alexis has “it.”

AlexisNico

Dancers: Brittany and BluPrint
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Style: Broadway
Song: “It’s Oh So Quiet” by Ice Princess (Original Soundtrack)

Two students in a late-night cram session and they fall in love. The vulnerabilities of BluPrint’s dancing are obvious, but he does get an “A” for trying and being a good partner.

The Judges: Mary adored this piece. She felt like BluPrint was really going to have to make sure the lines get hit. Christina gave BluPrint advice if he gets Broadway again. Nigel agreed with Christina.

BrittanyBluPrint

Dancers: Jasmine M and Alan
Choreographers: Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo
Style: Tango
Song: “Escape From Slavery” by PP Music (UK)

Innocent girl wooed by an evil man. Alan had a powerful male presence but I felt like it was overacting a bit. I believe he did not believe he was evil. The footwork looked good. He did a great job on the lifts.

The Judges: Mary gave them a standing ovation. Christina joined her. Christina thought they had a “moment” like they did last week. Nigel agreed. Mary said it is all about passion and they spilled it all over the stage.

JasmineAlan

Dancers: Makenzie and Paul
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Style: Jazz
Song: “‘Mannequin (Skeet & Tito Remix) by Trish

Mad scientist Paul creates Makenzie. Paul has some good moves there, but he also had some awkward ones, too. His face doesn’t seem to match the story. He looks angry–has that weird pouty face. He also looked out at the audience like you would do in ballroom which I kind of felt was out of place. Mackenzie was doing a great job.

The judges: Nigel loved the routine. He thought they both did fantastic. Mary loved it. She called Makenzie a dance diva without the attitude (hmmm…in order to be a diva you must have attitude). Christina loved it. She urged Paul to get of his carriage in these kinds of numbers.

MackenziePaul

Dancers: Mariah and Carlos
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Song: “Dead In The Water” by Ellie Goulding

Carlos has been in an accident and lost his memory. Carlos is supposed to have this glazed-over look and with the emotion of having to go home tonight, that has to be so very hard to do, but does speak volumes to his professionalism. I could feel the pain in Mariah’s movements. I would never think she was a hip-hop dancer. I got goosebumps! This was so beautiful!

The judges: They were on their feet. Mary told Mariah if she kept dancing like that she will make it to the other side of the rainbow. Christina thought it was like they had an umbilical cord between the two of them. The chemistry was the best she had seen tonight. Nigel said Mariah did a brilliant job at emoting.

MariahCarlos

Dancers: Amy and Fik-Shun
Choreographer: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo
Style: Hip-hop (ratchet?)
Song: “After Party” by Dorrough Music

The story is about two bellhops who love their job. For a contemporary dancer, she did a great job. The audience loved booty dances, too. That will definitely bring in the votes. And what I can I say. There is still #TruthInFikshun! (Yes, I first said that on Twitter).

The Judges: Christina loved that so much. She thought Fik-Shun is something special. She thinks Amy brings him up, too. Nigel said he knew that he was going to love this routine. Both of them light up the entire studio when they dance. He predicted if they kept dancing like that this and they would be in the finale. Mary said they were the pre-party, party-party and after-party.

AmyFikshun

Dancers: Jenna and Tucker
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Cha-cha
Song: “I Like It Like That (Aaron Jerome Remix) by Pete Rodriguez

Story about a guy who knows everyone in a nightclub and thinks he owns the place; Jenna’s job is to put him in his place. It was very good. It didn’t blow me away but it was respectable. They both played their parts well. It seemed they had the right posture for Latin dancing. It sizzled in spots but it did. It move me emotionally in any direction.

Judges: Mary thinks Jenna is a chameleon. She missed rhythmical action from Tucker. She thought he had it in moments. Christina was thoroughly entertain and loved the story and the characters they portrayed. Nigel felt Jenna did not give enough cha-cha and she was in heroin genre. He actually wanted it to look more like “Dancing With The Stars.” He blames Dmitry.

TuckerJenna

It is hard to predict who might be in the bottom two. I would say for the guys Tucker and BluPrint. For the girls, Jenna and maybe Malece? Picking out the girls is a bit more difficult.